SpellBook – Magick & Mischief (Cruz Del Sur Music)

Thursday, 22nd October 2020
Rating: 8.5/10

Risking a name change after being together since 2007 as Witch Hazel, releasing three independent albums from 2012-2018, SpellBook is now the new moniker for this proto-metal style act from Pennsylvania. Signing with Cruz Del Sur Music, Magick & Mischief is the latest studio chapter for the four-piece – continuing to bring an addictive and harmony-laden form of 70’s/early 80’s style traditional hard rock/metal blend through primal hooks, smooth transitions, and passionate affinity for the early roots of the genre.

Solid rhythm mechanics and tightly woven bluesy lead breaks from guitarist Andy Craven along with the natural high-pitched vocal delivery from singer Nate Tyson take center stage on first impression for songs like “Wands to the Sky” and road ready “Motorcade”. Full organ and harmonica support during “Black Shadow” give the song a little more Deep Purple/ Blue Oyster Cult flair, the slower, doom-like main atmosphere contrasting against the perfect shout-a-long chorus and the alluring rhythm section support from bassist Selbert Lowe Jr. and drummer Nicholas Zinn. It’s evident throughout that these gentlemen enjoy acts like UFO, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and even the early to mid-70’s era of Kiss when constructing and delivering these tracks – spirited interplay, proper knowledge of putting the parts together in all the right ways, and building out those ‘jam’ moments or letting certain instrumental sections breathe on their own when necessary. Intertwining a couple of longer 8:37 to 11:36 songs next to the shorter, more streamlined four to six-minute tracks squeezes out more from SpellBook in terms of throwing extra nuances in the playbook. Acoustic guitars, organ segments, and Nate taking full advantage of his potent pipes to bring “Not Long For This World” into mid-album highlight positioning, while closer “Dead Detectives” has an interesting bluesy/softer aspect with supplementary narrative/piano segments to keep your attention before Craven takes on some killer twin harmonies and spider web-like traits during the lead breaks.

Add in an illustration on the cover that contains many of the lyrical themes throughout the record and it’s easy to see how SpellBook have a perfect blend of proto-metal influences to develop impressive and memorable songs for Magick & Mischief. Feel the smoke penetrating the rehearsal room as these tracks are meant to be delivered live, and hopefully will gain appeal from the new guard as well as the old-timers.

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